More than 300 bird species found in North America during the summer will make their way to Latin America or the Caribbean, some covering distances of nearly 7,000 miles. Parks, backyards and nature refuges across the country will host these winged visitors for the next few weeks as the birds make their way to their fall and winter destinations, The Journal Standard reports.
Migration is a fascinating part of bird behavior. Besides the amount of daylight, it appears that age, sex, weather and the availability of food, water and shelter are the major factors in migratory behavior. While migration is still not completely understood, it appears that some birds orient themselves by the stars on clear nights while others seem to have a built-in magnetic compass. Some birds travel over large bodies of water, and birds commonly lose one fourth to one half of their body weight during such over-water migration. In order to survive their grueling trip, birds accumulate fat prior to migration. This physiological change helps the birds maintain their energy reserves.
Not only can we enjoy migrating birds as they pass through our area, but we can also play a role in their survival by providing food, water, habitat and/or shelter to help them conserve and replenish their energy supply during their journey. Foods that are high in fat, such as suet and sunflower seeds help birds refuel their energy supply.
Millions of songbirds, including warblers, vireos, thrushes and sparrows use the Mississippi River corridor as their migration route. Thousands of tundra swans as well as American white pelicans rest and feed here or can be seen flying above the river in a line, while hundreds of thousands of diving ducks, including canvasbacks, redheads, lesser scaup, ringnecks, buffleheads and ruddy ducks use the open water areas. Mallards, wigeon, gadwalls, teal and other dabbling ducks gather in the shallow backwaters. Due to the loss of wetlands throughout the Upper Midwest, the Upper Mississippi River represents some of the only migrational habitat left for many of these species.
For suggestions about places on the Mississippi River in northern Illinois that are good places to catch migrating birds follow the link below.
For the original report go to http://www.journalstandard.com/lifestyle/home_and_garden/x887146445/Birds-fly-out-as-fall-rolls-in?zc_p=1